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DND chief hopes Sabah row will be settled peacefully

MANILA, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin is hoping the stand-off between Filipino Muslims and Malaysian forces in Lahad Datu, Eastern Sabah will end peacefully.

Gazmin said on Friday that he and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista have been in constant talks with their Malaysian counterparts so that the issue will conclude as soon as possible without bloodshed.

"Both us and our counterparts agreed that this issue must be resolved peacefully," Gazmin stressed.

As negotiations are ongoing, the DND chief stated that efforts are now underway to ensure that no additional Filipino Muslims will arrive at the disputed territory that could further complicate the situation.

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Thursday announced that it has beefed up its patrol operations off the Sulu Sea in wake of the ongoing stand-off between the Filipino Muslim followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram and Malaysian forces in Sabah.

"The PN thru Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) in Zamboanga City has been supporting the efforts of Western Mindanao Command in ensuring that security will be enforced and that issues will be resolved peacefully," PN spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

Under NFWM, Naval Task Force 62 is ready to conduct maritime patrol operations with Malaysian authorities.

Six PN ships and one Islander aircraft are now on stand-by for this duty to stabilize and secure the situation.

"As an archipelagic state, the PN plays a crucial role in maritime operation such as defense, interdiction, patrolling and law enforcement. Guarding more than 36,000 kilometers of vast territorial waters, the PN intensify its naval operation in the country's backdoor - Sulu Sea," Fabic stressed. 

Philippine News Agency | February 22, 2013 | Article Link


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